Former champion Rob Cross suffers shock defeat at World Darts Championships

Rob Cross during his defeat. Picture by Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross during his defeat. Picture by Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Rob Cross suffered a shock defeat on the second night of the 2020 William Hill World Darts Championship.

The 2018 champion from St Leonards lost by three sets to nil against world number 41 Kim Huybrechts in round two on Saturday night.

Cross was well off form throughout the match at Alexandra Palace, London, as he was blown away by his Belgian opponent, nicknamed The Hurricane.

The world number two won just two of the 11 legs, averaged only 89.64 (which was actually marginally higher than Huybrechts) and, crucially, missed a host of doubles.

Cross held throw in the opening leg only to lose the next eight legs as Huybrechts - a former World Cup winner and two-time Premier League player - took complete control.

Huybrechts checked out 116, with Cross waiting on double four, to level the first set, and his first 180 helped him break for 2-1. With Cross really struggling, Huybrechts could even afford five missed doubles in the next leg before wrapping up the set 3-1.

Cross missed a dart at double 18 for a 116 outshot in the opening leg of the second set, allowing Huybrechts to finish 66 for a hold of throw.

The 29-year-old Cross kicked off the next leg with a 180, but spurned four attempts at a double and Huybrechts finished 72 to go 2-0 up. The Belgian pinned double top in the next leg to clinch the set 3-0.

As things went from bad to worse, Cross, amazingly, bust 130 in the first leg of the third set by hitting double 16 instead of double eight. Three more missed doubles followed, enabling Huybrechts to break throw.

Voltage, as Cross is nicknamed, looked on course to break back in the next leg after following his second 180 with a 140 only for Huybrechts to produce a brilliant 152 checkout with Cross waiting on double 18.

Cross finally won his second leg of the match after ending a run of 11 consecutive missed doubles. Although he landed his third 180 in the next leg, Huybrechts delivered a superb 11-darter to seal the set 3-1 - and with it the match.

Huybrechts looked shocked at the end and afterwards admitted "I can't really believe it", having beaten Cross for the first time in seven attempts.

Of some consolation to Cross, as he enjoys Christmas with his young family, will be that he's still had a decent year, winning the European Championship and World Matchplay, as well as reaching the final of the Premier League and UK Open.

And he will be determined to raise his game back to those sort of levels for the 2020 season, which will begin with the Ladbrokes Masters in Milton Keynes at the end of January.